Mount Airy City Schools is seeking a $60 increase per student in county funding for the next fiscal year.
The city Board of Education heard a presentation this week from its school staff on budget recommendations. Among the details was a desired raise in per-student funding from $1,115 to $1,175.
A year ago, the Surry County Board of Commissioners approved the $1,115 figure based on an average daily attendance of 1,611 city students. That came to nearly $1.8 million. An increase of $60 per student based on a similar attendance would come to an extra $96,700, or $1.89 million total.
In the 2015-16 school year, the funding rate was $1,090 per student. When the county board voted to increase the rate to $1,115, that added about $280,000 across all 10,700 students in the three school districts in the county.
Commissioner Eddie Harris had advocated for an increase in school current expenses funding to $1,125 per student, the level of funding in the 2011-12 fiscal year.
To approve $1,175, the county would have to find almost $12.6 million in a county-wide budget of $74 million. Plus, there is the added cost of capital projects.
School allocations — with the exception of special requests and projects — is placed into two categories, both of which are per-pupil allocations. Current expenses, or “ADM funding,” is a per-pupil allotment earmarked for no specific use. Capital outlay is the other regular per-student annual allotment from the county. That money is earmarked for capital projects, including security and technology improvements.
The capital-outlay funding in the current fiscal year is $110, which comes to $1.18 million. Coupled with the ADM funding, the county is spending nearly $13.8 million on schools, not including special projects.
At the school board meeting this week, city school officials recommended a $150 rate for capital projects. That was broken down to $100 for capital needs, $40 for technology needs and $10 for security improvements.
The school board heard a list of projects that were funded this school year from the current $110 rate.
Those include replacing gym lights at Jones Intermediate, sidewalk repairs at Tharrington Primary, security cameras, buzzer entrance system at the middle school, bathroom renovations at the high school, painting at the high school and its gym, school band equipment, and refinishing the gym floors at the middle school and the old junior high (which is still utilized by the wrestling and basketball teams).
The board then heard some of the needs for the upcoming fiscal year.
These include wall repair and painting in the high school gym, painting at the middle school, security cameras at the middle school, security alarm reconnection at the high school, security alarm upgrade at Tharrington, gutter repairs, tile replacement in two Tharrington bathrooms, tile replacement in the Jones cafeteria lobby, new food equipment, and siding on the Wallace Shelton Stadium fieldhouse.
This list did not include a few big-ticket items that are listed under special capital requests. These include the complete resurfacing of the high school tennis courts, HVAC and mechanical work at Tharrington and Jones, a double-stack oven for the high school, and expansion of the high school parking lot.
City school officials will appear before the county board on April 6 to discuss the budget requests.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.